Mary’s Media Roundup: October / November
Recent reports of corruption in the Conservative Party have dominated the news in recent weeks. Mary released a statement on social media on the night the Tories voted to rip up the standards procedure to help their own. This was also reported by the Northern Echo after Tory MP for Darlington, Peter Gibson, defended his vote to let disgraced MP Owen Paterson off the hook.
Last night I said that the Conservatives were apologists for corruption. What they did was wrong then and they knew it as the filed through the voting lobbies. The public have every right to feel outraged that the Conservatives felt the rules should apply to others but not them.
Yet another U-turn in the face of mounting public outcry shows the Government is out of touch and corrupt to the core. Britain deserves better.
Also in the news was the Government’s decision not to award funding for a feasibility study for the reopening of the Leamside Line. This news was featured in the Sunderland Echo, and the Northern Echo.
Reinstating the Leamside Line would have been a truly transformative investment, unshackling our region from ageing and neglected infrastructure, generating much needed economic growth, and radically improving connectivity between communities in our region and the wider country.
Therefore, It is incredibly frustrating that the Government have chosen to recognise the unmistakable benefits of the scheme yet still decline to take it further due to a cost of 600 million.
That our region is not considered worthy of an investment that size when much larger projects have been given the green light in south over recent decades is insulting to our people.
Reports of spiking at nightclubs up and down the country provided a harrowing tale of abuse that women face in everyday life. Mary spoke to the Northern Echo about growing anxieties around the threat of spiking at Durham University.
I would like to assure female students that I will be making my feelings known to the Vice Chancellor on this matter, as well as offering every assistance to ensure that spiking is clamped down on and the culprits punished.
It is imperative that we shine a spotlight on this vile act and I will be calling on the university, police, pubs, bars and nightclubs to take every action necessary to protect women from spiking.
Mary also appeared on BBC North East and Cumbria’s Sunday Politics programme last month following the murder of Conservative MP, Sir David Amess. Mary paid tribute to Sir David and expressed her sympathies with his family and staff. The show continued on to discuss vaccine take-up in children, the rising cost of fuel bills, and Durham’s longlisting in the City of Culture bid.
You can watch the show here.
Following the murder of Sir David Amess, the issue of MP security was brought to the forefront of people’s discussions. Mary’s comments on security were highlighted by The Chronicle.
The tragic murder of Sir David Amess MP last week has naturally left MPs, their staff and of course, their constituents, incredibly shaken. It is only natural that people might be concerned as to whether they’ll be safe meeting with their MP at the moment, however I plan to keep in place the virtual arrangements I have used for the last 18 months during which I have carried out meetings, surgeries and public events via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Any in person events I hold in the future will always be thoroughly risk assessed and advice will be sought from Durham Constabulary as to whether additional security measures may be necessary.
Mary’s work on the Health and Care Bill Committee, scrutinising the Bill and suggesting amendments to it was featured heavily in the national media with her amendments relating to smoking health. Mary’s package of amendments would push the Government to meet its target of a smokefree England by 2030, which it is currently on course to miss by seven years.
The report into the failings of the Test and Trace system by the Public Accounts Committee vindicated what many people had been arguing for months, that the Test and Trace system was a waste of money. Speaking to the Northern Echo, Mary said:
As cases remain high compared to our continental neighbours, especially in children, it is clear that Test and Trace has failed, and we once again find ourselves staring down the barrel of a chaotic Christmas.
It is no surprise to me that a Public Accounts Committee report has concluded that our privately outsourced Test and Trace system has not achieved its main public health objectives despite being allocated £37 billion over the last two years.
Despite paying extortionate daily fees to consultants, from the start we have heard reports in Durham of people being contacted incorrectly or being contacted too late, with seemingly little accountability over this programme’s poor performance or spiralling costs.
It pains me to know that 20% of the NHS’s entire annual budget has been squandered on a failed system when it could have been spent on funding more health and social care staff or improvements to hospitals instead.
Boris Johnson has previously said that “greed” had helped us to defeat the virus, but it is precisely “greed” that has allowed so much money to be wasted on failed contracts, failed systems, and ultimately a failed pandemic response.